-by Tufail Ahmad
Over thirteen centuries ago, in 712 CE, an external force made an incursion into Indian civilisation. For the next thousand years, Indian people accommodated it in different ways. In 1947, they came to believe they could buy permanent peace with it by giving away a piece of our territory, thereby creating Pakistan. Once again in 2015, political analysts, acting on behalf of this external force, have convinced us and our government that we must buy peace. On July 10 in Ufa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to ride a peace plane to Pakistan next year.
Speaking of planes, our media has been teaching Indian youth since 1999 that the Indian Airlines plane IC814 was hijacked to Kandahar that year by terrorists. This is contrary to facts. The plane was hijacked by the Pakistani state to bargain for the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) imprisoned by India in Kashmir. This jihadist organisation is a branch of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. In interviews, three terrorist commanders have testified that the JeM is part of the ISI.
On June 25, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released an interview of Adam Gadhan, the American spokesman of Al-Qaeda killed in a drone strike in Waziristan this year. Gadhan shed fresh light on the Pakistani state’s support to JeM. For his final trip to Pakistan in late 1998, Gadhan stayed at Kuwait Hostel of the Islamic International University in Islamabad. From the Kuwait Hostel, Gadhan said he was picked up by “two Pakistani brothers” who “told me they were from the group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was still in an Indian prison.” Jaish-e-Muhammad, along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is the lead group fighting in Kashmir. Two more interviews of Adnan Rasheed and Shamsh Kashmiri establish that JeM is a branch of the ISI. Shamsh Kashmiri, a former JeM deputy chief, revealed last year that when Pervez Musharraf ‘shut down’ offices of jihadist groups under global pressure, Ashfaq Kayani, then ISI chief, raised salaries for JeM, LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and others. Kayani was elevated to the post of army chief by Musharraf on whose watch 26/11 attacks were planned.
Adnan Rasheed, a commander with the Pakistani Taliban, revealed in 2013 that as a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) staff he was sent to a JeM training camp where he realised: “We are soldiers in uniform” and JeM members “are soldiers without uniform”; “we follow them and they take instruction from our institution – the ISI.” Adnan also revealed that he was part of a unit in the PAF called Idarat-ul-Pakistan (the Institution of Pakistan), whose stated objective was to create a jihadist network across the Pakistani armed forces. AQIS is its new offshoot.
The worry is that Pakistan continues to support the JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, much as it protected Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar and protects Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and others. Al-Qalam is an Urdu-language jihadist weekly sold across Pakistan, published by the JeM’s Al-Rehmat Trust. In a July 14 report, Al-Qalam celebrated “two weeks of success by Jaish-e-Muhammad mujahideen” in Nowgam sector in Kashmir. The external force that arrived under Muhammad bin Qasim is now led by the JeM-ISI combine.
In Kashmir, it is testing India’s spirit for coexistence. During July 1-19, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir for 11 times and ISI-backed terrorists from Jaish-e-Muhammad and LeT fought against Indian troops. On July 13, Pakistani national Mohammad Anwar of LeT was killed in Poonch district. On July 3-4, five militants were killed in Uri sector. There are recurring cases of incursions and militant attacks. A private website must compile the list of Indian soldiers being killed by Pakistan in this manner.
A divided Punjab is acceptable to this force but a division of Kashmir isn’t because it is a Muslim-majority region. Lead organisations fighting against the Indian civilisation are: Pakistani military, LeT, JeM and Indian Mujahideen, the last three backed by the first. This singular force also aided non-Muslim proxies like pro-Khalistan terrorists who should ideally be fighting to take back Lahore as their capital instead of fighting against India. This is the force that shot Malala Yousafzai, who is an Indian; Pakistani is not an identity; the identity is only Indian. Former PAF chief Asghar Khan has testified that all wars with India were initiated by Pakistan.
To this external force, peace is unacceptable; peace is merely a tactic. The historic peace bus to Lahore by AB Vajpayee led to Kargil war in 1999. When Musharraf was talking, terrorists were trained to attack Mumbai. When Nawaz Sharif was talking of talks, India’s consulate in Jalalabad was attacked in August 2013. Trust talks of peace with this external force after Pakistan amends its constitution allowing non-Muslim Pakistani citizens to become head of the state.
Countries like Pakistan that do not allow their non-Muslim citizens to become the head of state are the anti-thesis of Indian civilisation and Malala Yousafzai. The jihadism in Kashmir is their continuing war against Indian civilisation. This writer was questioned on Twitter for arguing that teaching India’s history could undercut Islamic extremism. The argument remains: this external force subverts the process of India’s history; Multan was a Hindu city, Lahore a Sikh metropolis. Teaching our kids that we all are Harappans will indeed aid Islamic reformation in India. Actor Salman Khan, holding a torch of hope in his new movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan in which he helps a lost mute girl return home in Pakistan, tweeted that Modi and Sharif should watch the film “because love for children is above all boundaries.” Khan the Bajrangi is indeed the impulse of Indian civilisation; the Pakistani identity is an interim construct; the identity, the civilisational impulse, remains Indian. Today’s jihadism is external to Indian civilisation. Attempts to buy peace with this force must be discouraged, more so since the Syria-based Islamic State has already made an incursion into India, like Muhammad bin Qasim led Iraqi and Syrian fighters to India.
The author is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington.